CNN host Anderson Cooper just blogged about a shooting at a junior high school computer lab in California that happened two weeks ago. Consequently, as a result of a hate crime, 15-year-old Lawrence King was shot to death.
Anderson, 40, posed the question, “When does bullying become a hate crime?” Here’s his entry:
“We are focusing on a story that hasn’t received the attention it deserves. The story is about a young man named Lawrence King. He was 15 years old. On the morning of Feb 12, a classmate of Lawrence’s allegedly walked into the computer lab in front of some two dozen other students and shot Lawrence in the head. He was declared brain dead later at the hospital. According to authorities, this was not a random killing, it was a hate crime. Lawrence had recently told people he was gay, and apparently wore clothing that was viewed as effeminate. According to many accounts he had been bullied repeatedly, and some parents have even claimed students knew of threats to Lawrence’s life. At this point it doesn’t seem clear how much school officials knew of the bullying, but a full investigation needs to be done. If this had been an African-American student bullied by a teenage skinhead would it have received more attention? Would school officials have taken it more seriously if it had been a Christian campus leader attacked by another student because of his/her religious beliefs? I don’t have the answers to those questions, but I do think they are worth asking. Bullying is a problem in schools across the country. We’ve seen this time and time again. Is enough being done to stop it?”
In response to this hate crime, both Democratic presidential candidates released statements regarding this tragic event:
Said Hillary Clinton, “I was deeply saddened by the recent death of 15-year-old Lawrence King who was killed at his school in Oxnard, CA. No one should face intimidation or violence, particularly at school, because of their sexual orientation or the way they express their gender identity.We must finally enact a federal hate crimes law to ensure that gay, lesbian and transgender Americans are protected against violent, bias-motivated crimes. We must send a unified message that hate-based crime will not be tolerated.”
Barack Obama is on the same page, adding, “It was heartbreaking to learn about Lawrence King’s death, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family. King’s senseless death is a tragic example of the corrosive effect that bigotry and fear can have in our society. It’s also an urgent reminder that we need to do more in our schools to foster tolerance and an acceptance of diversity; that we must enact a federal hate crimes law that protects all LGBT Americans; and that we must recommit ourselves to becoming active and engaged parents, citizens and neighbors, so that bias and bigotry cannot take hold in the first place. We all have a responsibility to help this nation live up to its founding promise of equality for all.”
The L.A. Times also has a write-up of last week’s memorial service for King: “At a memorial attended by more than 500 people in Port Hueneme, Lawrence “Larry” King was remembered Friday as a sensitive child who liked to draw, paint and crochet. One Christmas, he helped his mother crochet hundreds of scarves so that U.S. troops in Afghanistan wouldn’t be without a holiday gift.”
You can also visit the website that King’s family set up: RememberLarry.com.